Hyderabad: Every year, as thousands of visitors flock for a glimpse of the Bibi-ka-Alam during the first Islamic month of Moharram, there is one question that is whispered around, with the answers as varied as the number of the people who crowd Dabeerpura at this time of the year. And that question is all about […]
Hyderabad: Every year, as thousands of visitors flock for a glimpse of the Bibi-ka-Alam during the first Islamic month of Moharram, there is one question that is whispered around, with the answers as varied as the number of the people who crowd Dabeerpura at this time of the year.
And that question is all about those six black velvet pouches hanging on either side of the Alam-e-Mubarak installed in the Bibi ka Alawa, a characteristic that distinguishes it from the hundreds of standards installed across Telangana. (Alam in English is called standard).
What piques the curiosity, apart from the varying accounts of what is in the pouches, is that they are heavily guarded round the clock till the standard is placed back in its vault after the 14th Moharram.
Professor Salma Ahmed Farooqui of HK Sherwani Centre for Deccan Studies, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, says several historical accounts indicate that the pouches have precious jewel drops inside them containing jhumke (earrings) of priceless emerald and ruby drops given as nazr (gift or offering) by the fourth Nizam Mir Farqunda Ali Khan, also known as Nasir-ud-Daulah. He ruled Hyderabad State between 1829 and 1857 AD.
Another narrative is that the Seventh Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan also gave large diamonds to the Alam.
“So far the ‘heere jawaraat’ (jewelry) were not displayed in public. It is brought annually during Moharram when the alam is installed and later kept back in the vault. However, the jewelry is not removed from the pouches,” she said.
The vault is in the shape of a sarcophagus known as ‘zarih’ where the jewels have been preserved in the sealed pouches.
Mujataba Abidi, a Shia community leader, said the Alam and the pouches were kept in a room and sealed in presence of the local police, Tahsildar and members of the Nizam’s Trust.
“During the procession, a security cordon is thrown around the elephant carrying the Bibi ka Alam. It is because of the precious pouches that the security cover is more around the elephant,” he said.
Syed Hamed Hussain Jaffery of Telangana Shia Youth Conference explains that the practice of installing Bibi ka Alam dates back to the Qutb Shahi period when Hayath Bakshi Begum, the wife of Muhammad Qutb Shah, installed an alam in the memory of Bibi Fatima at Golconda. Later, during the Asaf Jahi era, the alam was moved over to Bibi ka Alawa at Dabeerpura specially built for the purpose.
The alam contains a piece of the wooden plank on which Bibi Fatima was given her final ablution before burial. The relic is believed to have reached Golconda all the way from Karbala in Iraq during the reign of Golconda king Abdullah Qutub Shah, said Jaffery.